Cave Creek recall petitions ruled invalid
Tara Alatorre~ 6/25/2014
CAVE CREEK – A Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled to file an injunction last Wednesday, ending the Cave Creek recall elections announced for Councilmen Mike Durkin and Charles Spitzer after invalidating recall petition sheets based on Arizona case law.
The judge enjoined the ruling with the lawsuit filed by Cave Creek’s Vice Mayor Adam Trenk and Councilman Reg Monachino a couple of weeks ago, which ended their potential recall elections based on invalidating signatures due to questionable fraud. Essentially, the courts ruled in both lawsuits that certain petition sheets had the same print handwriting for multiple voter signatures of the same household, which invalidates not only those signatures, but the affidavit the signature collector signs, thus invalidating that entire sheet, according to Town Clerk Carrie Dyrek.
The rulings for all four councilman was based on Arizona case law Parker versus Tucson, after the judge ruled to invalidate whole petition sheets, there were no longer enough signatures collected for a recall election, said Dyrek.
Susan Clancy, chairman of Cave Creek Caring Citizens, the organization that filed the recall petitions for all four town councilmen, and was named in Wednesday’s lawsuit, says she stands by the court’s decision.
“Because the signatures were collected by an outside group, it did leave a lot of room for potential fraud,” said Clancy in a phone interview. “But we won’t make that same mistake twice. “
The organization has already conjured up efforts to begin a second round of recall petitions for councilmen Adam Trenk, Reg Monachino, Charles Spitzer, and Mike Durkin, with hopes of seeing a recall election this November. Despite spending $15,000 in legal fees for the recent lawsuits, the organization is not backing down from its pursuit of recall elections because it’s part of the democratic process, says Clancy.
“The recall process is a constitutional right – everyone who has a concern and wants to do a recall, they can, and then the voters re-vote and at the end of the day it’s a process,” says Clancy. “Because sometimes mistakes are made and sometimes people have a change of heart.”
However, Councilman Spitzer says the recall efforts are merely an act of retribution meant to split the residents of the town apart. If the town voters are unhappy, there are other methods, such as referendums for reconciliation, rather than aligning with a group that admitted to committing fraud, he said.
“Recalls are designed to remove elected officials who commit crimes, not because you don’t like them or you want an election do-over,” said Spitzer in an email interview. “The election that seated us was a clear indication of the voice of the people. If you aren’t satisfied with our decisions, file referendums to overturn our decisions.”
No referendums have been filed by Clancy’s organization. According to Spitzer, this proves their recall efforts are not based on the dissatisfaction of the councils’ actions, but out of a smear campaign being led by tabloids. He encourages the people of Cave Creek Caring Citizens to run during a normal election cycle and to start using its efforts in a positive way for the town.
The legal fees to represent Cave Creek in the recent lawsuits will cost the town in legal fees; the total cost to the town was still unknown when this story was written.
"I'm glad the town will be spared the expense of a recall,” said Durkin in an email interview. “The claims were groundless, and it is time to get on with the business of building a sustainable future for our town and securing the open space the citizens of Cave Creek so desperately want."